Winning at the Grand Ball requires being able to move to the beat of each song that is playing.
That’s a March mantra UCLA coach Mick Cronin likes to repeat. He originated with his 81-year-old father, Hep, a former high school basketball coach now known for his raised fists during Bruins victories.
“It’s not tango every night,” said Mick Cronin. “You have to be able to win in different ways against different styles.”
The Bruins’ relentless defense and ability to protect the ball like a newborn make them capable of beating any team this time of year. But there are more than a few mistakes to avoid to keep dancing to “One Shining Moment,” the season’s final song.
As No. 2 seed UCLA (29-5) prepares to open the NCAA tournament Thursday night at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento against No. 15 seed North Carolina Asheville (27-7), expect this is just the beginning of a Big Dance marathon that leads to the school’s first national championship since 1995.
Here are 12 things that need to go right for the Bruins to raise the No. 12 banner: